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First Time IEM Buyer, Advice Please

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I am in the market for the first time for some In Ear headphones. I have been lurking here a while, and have done some extensive reading, but I have not found a thread that was exactly the kind of advice I am looking for so I decided to start one. If after reading my questions you feel they have been answered before, please give some hints on what to search for (or links if you are generous).

Here is my criteria / preferences:
  • Under $100 (the less expensive the better, but I know quality costs).
  • Fairly quick to remove and replace (I'll be using these at work, and have frequent walk-ups to my cubicle).
  • For use with an iPhone 3GS.
  • Isolation is not a big deal, but I do not want a lot of sound leakage since I work in close quarters to others I could disturb.
  • I do not listen at high volume (very often)
  • I prefer a warm sound to a bright sound.
  • I like bass, the more the better unless it overpowers everything else.
  • I prefer instrumental music over vocal music.
  • I listen to a variety of styles, but mostly electronica, trance, dance, contemporary Jazz, 80's pop, soundtracks, etc.
  • I have never even tried IEMs, so I don't really have a comparison point, my cans are Sennheiser HD570's and I love them. I think the earphones that come with the iPhone are crappy.
  • I don't really consider myself an audiophile, but I know what I like, and it has to be decent quality.

I am open to all make/model suggestions, but based on the research I have already done, here is what I'm thinking:

Eliminate Etymotic Research due to price and lack of bass.
Eliminate Sure due to price.
Eliminate Sony due to quality.
Eliminate Sennheiser due to price.

I am leaning towards Klipsch. All the speakers in my home theatre are Klipsch except for my sub (Velodyne) so I am familiar with their quality.

The Klipsch Custom-2 IEMs seem to be the best deal right now since they can be had for less than half their retail. But I worry they will be time consuming to take in and out.

The S4 or S4i are appealing since they advertise "enhanced bass" but I wonder if the bass is any better (or worse) than the Custom-2. The fact these are 2009 models rather than 2007 for the Custom-2, I wonder if it's possible they are just as good or better (and maybe why the Custom-2 is so discounted). I worry about others posting that they sound harsh (even after burn-in). I don't answer my personal phone much at work, so the S4i controls are cool, but not a requirement.

All advice welcome, and thanks in advance for your response.
post #2 of 17
If I were you, I would look into the phones that have iphone buttons, the S4i is probably your best bet.
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
I care more about sound quality than function, but if I do end up deciding on Klipsch S4, I'll prolly spend the extra $20 for the buttons on the S4i. I am using JVC Flats (not bad for the price, but well below my quality standard) at work right now with my iPhone, and I haven't missed the iPod buttons.

Oh... One other question I meant to include in my first post is:

What should my expectations be when comparing IEMs to my HD570 cans? I know that the bass will not be able to be as robust since big cans can actually shake your head a bit... so I don't want to set myself up for disappointment. Do IEMs ever sound as good as large cans? If yes, can I achieve this level of good sound for under $100? (okay that is a few questions).

I have never listened to any IEMs, so I seriously have no idea what to expect.
post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeanKeith View Post
I care more about sound quality than function, but if I do end up deciding on Klipsch S4, I'll prolly spend the extra $20 for the buttons on the S4i. I am using JVC Flats (not bad for the price, but well below my quality standard) at work right now with my iPhone, and I haven't missed the iPod buttons.

SoundMAGIC MP21 has the microphone and switch for answering your phone while using it.
post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
I had never heard of Soundmagic. The MP21 looks kind of like Skullcandy brand to me. Maybe a foreign knock-off? (which I am okay with as long as they are good) It seems from what I have found that they are a great value for the money, but not as good as more expensive models. I would love to save the money, but I have a feeling they wouldn’t touch the Klipsch when it comes to sound. But most reviews do say they have good bass. Hmmmmm.

Here is the best thread I have found related to : SoundMagic MP21:
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f103/s...1-pl21-438896/

But ultimately, I don’t need iPod or phone controls if that limits my choices on best sound quality for the money.
post #6 of 17
Good bass and/or warm earphones:
-Nuforce NE-6/NE-7M
-RadioPaq Jazz
-Ultimate Ears MetroFi 170/220

The Nuforces go in deeper than the UEs and RadioPaqs and are also less warm than either, but offer better sq/$ IMO.
post #7 of 17
I just got my hands on the Klipsch S4i's and agree I think they are a good bet, if you're in the states you can get em for 79$ from amazon. They have the mic and buttons which is nice, and they sound great and are really comfortable. The bass is definately present, however I've found it to be in some instances a little bit overpowering, though I'm not a bass-head so it's sort of up to you.
post #8 of 17
How about the RE0 for $99?
post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by sgogeta4 View Post
How about the RE0 for $99?
The OP wants some bass as well, FWIR the re0s lack the bass.
post #10 of 17
Like an above poster suggested for your purpose and budget, I would probably go with:

a) Nuforce Ne-6/7m

Fun, warm but not quite as warm as the S4's. Overall, I would say they're a good SQ for the $40 you would pay for them. And if they are your first IEM, no big loss if you don't like them. Half as much as the S4's.

b) Klipsch S4/S4i

Also fun and warm....the bass tends to leak and the they're harsh for the first 100 hours or so of burn in. IDK about other people, but these do indeed settling down a bit. If your DAP doesn't have a great EQ and you don't have the ability to down the bass a bit, it could put you off. And for $80, idk.

BUT, the harshness that I experienced was mainly in rock and the subgenres of death metal. When I listened to R&B, Classical guitar/Spanish Guitar....they pretty much just melt right into your ears.

In the end I think it's up to you and what you're looking for. Are the S4's worth 2x what the ne-6's cost? I personally don't think so. That's not to say the S4's aren't an improvement, because they are in some areas.
post #11 of 17
I've heard good things about the Klipsch S4. I just bought a pair, will let you know what I think.
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for your suggestions... broadening my search some more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ljokerl View Post
The Nuforces go in deeper than the UEs and RadioPaqs and are also less warm than either, but offer better sq/$ IMO.
Deeper is better... I like to hear the lows.

I did read up on the UE MetroFi 220i, and it seems some people think there is not enough bass, so I had previously eliminated them too.

So I'm really liking the Nuforce NE-7Ms so far. I'm not seeing a lot of places selling them though.

Is nobody a fan of the Klipsch Custom-2s? It still seems like there you are getting a $200 pair of IEMs for $80... whereas with the S4, you're getting an $80 pair for $80... LOL Kind of a no-brainer unless there is something not to like about the Custom-2's.

Regarding whether or not to get a mic, sure, between NE-6 and NE-7M, I'd get the one with the mic, but if I go with something like the Custom-2, and want a mic, I can just add something like THIS.
post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by oakleyguy89 View Post
...from your sig... IEMs: Klipsch Image S4, Nuforce Ne-7m
Okay, since these are probably my top two contenders... can you contrast them for me?

Which has better bass? Which has a smoother sound? Are the S4s more harsh? Which are more comfortable? Any other noteworthy differences?
post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeanKeith View Post
Deeper is better... I like to hear the lows.
By deeper I meant the insertion depth. And I meant is as a con (for you) in terms of ease-of-insertion. The Nuforces are pretty much only sold via Nuforce's amazon.com store. Their customer service is stellar though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeanKeith View Post
I did read up on the UE MetroFi 220i, and it seems some people think there is not enough bass, so I had previously eliminated them too.
Not sure where you read this. Quantity-wise, they may be the bassiest IEMs I currently own. Quality of bass is quite good too. Bass is highly dependent on fit, so if you can't get a seal, you can't get the bass.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeanKeith View Post
Regarding whether or not to get a mic, sure, between NE-6 and NE-7M, I'd get the one with the mic, but if I go with something like the Custom-2, and want a mic, I can just add something like THIS.
Keep in mind where that thing will be hanging - all the way at the bottom of the 4' long cord of your earphones.
post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
ljokerl, in your sig, is your list of IEMs in the order of best to worst in your opinion? I gather than from the > symbol between them, but then I'm surprised how low you ranked the MetroFi 220.
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